Monday, September 19, 2016

Camping with a Side of Beer - Part I

Earlier this month we joined our friends Chris and Lyn on their annual camping trip at Farwell Bend State Recreation Area in Eastern Oregon. We all know that camping tends to involve plenty of beer but this time was different than our usual hope-we've-packed-enough-booze-because-once-we-get-to-the-campground-what-we-have-is-what-we-have.

Farewell Bend is about 45 minutes past Baker City, where Barley Brown's is located. It might be Chris' favorite brewery so of course he was planning to visit again and this was a prime opportunity for us to visit for the first time. Arriving mid-afternoon, shortly after they opened we set about to trying a number of beers we hadn't had (although we'd had quite a few both because they're fairly well distributed in Portland and anytime Chris visits he always brings back growlers to share). Leaving while we were still in a position to finish the drive to the campground, we arrived with plenty of daylight to set things up. The evening was a typical camping one - a hearty dose of food and beers around the campfire - but nothing to crazy as the next day was the big beer day.

Boise, Idaho likely isn't one of the first places that pops to mind when thinking of beer destinations but we knew there was enough there to be worth the three hour round trip drive. It's something Mag and I wouldn't have undertaken on our own however Lyn doesn't drink so the four of us piled into their van mid-morning knowing we'd have a sober driver to bring us back at the end of the day. We didn't have a detailed itinerary but had identified a few places we definitely wanted to hit and mapped out others. From there it was a matter of trying to visit places in roughly a geographically sensical sequence taking into account what time each place opened.

Starting out on the western side of the Boise metro we rolled into Powderhaus Brewing and ordered up three pints to share - First Turns IPA, Haus Bier (cream ale) and Deadfall Ale (red ale). While enjoying our tasty first beers of the day I wandered around the interior, with seating open to the brewery, and "backyard" area with a small stage and creek running behind it. Both the IPA - woody and pleasantly hoppy - and the Red - hoppy and a bit nutty - are beers I could drink plenty of, the cream ale only getting a slight down grade due to style.

Next up was Crooked Fence Brewing, just a short jaunt down the road, where we decided that since it was a full service restaurant it would be a good idea to grab lunch before we got too far into our day. Crooked Fence is fairly well distributed in Portland so it was another round of pints with my choice being the Gose of Davy Jones - a version with a lovely, pronounced salt characteristic and a surprisingly rounded mouthfeel - along with a mighty tasty quesadilla. Mag and Chris opted for Hither Brown and Welcome to Idaho Amber.

Set with a good base for the rest of the day we continued east towards downtown with the next stop being Payette Brewing Company. An impressive facility in size and accommodations - a taproom that could fit a hundred people easily, multiple cooler doors of beer to go and a "backyard" outfitted with picnic tables, cornhole, a disc golf hole and hammock. Ordering our pints - Recoil IPA, Experimental IPA #2 and Payette Pale Ale - our server invited us to go through the glass door to the observation deck overlooking the brewery, something I found to be a good solution to letting people see the brewery without them getting in the way or requiring staff to attend to. The Recoil, a juicy IPA, was my favorite of the three and one I'll be keeping an eye out for in Portland as we see a fair number of their beers around town.

Then it was time to head downtown for our next three stops and here is probably a good place for a break in the story. Check back in a day or two to see what the rest of the Boise adventure entailed.

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